Today's 70s Song You Should Know: Jim Stafford's Vaguely Homophobic Hit 'My Girl Bill'

Post by: Rick Ellis 26 June, 2023

With all of the cultural changes the United States has undergone in the past couple of decades, it's easy to forget that there was a time in the not-so-distant past when racism and homophobia was used primarily as a way to get a cheap laugh. A perfect example of that is the 1974 Jim Stafford hit single "My Girl Bill."

Stafford was a fixture on television during the height of the variety TV show boom of the mid-1970s. He even had a short-lived 1975 summer variety series, The Jim Stafford Show. But he's probably best known for a series of hit singles from his brief two album recording career, including the weirdly homophobic "My Girl Bill."

Stafford grew up in Florida and in high school played in a bad that included soon-to-be country rock legend Gram Parsons and Kent LaVoie (who had a string of 1970s hits under the name "Lobo"). Stafford's first brush with fame was in 1968, when he was a performer/supervising writer on the short-lived The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour Revival Show. In 1973, his old bandmate LaVoie produced his first album, which included the creepy creole rocker "Swamp Witch." But most of the album was comprised of the quirky little comedy tunes that would later make Stafford a fixture in Branson, Missouri. "Spiders And Snakes" went to #3 on the Top 100 and was a gold record. The album also included the #7 hit "Wildwood Weed" and "My Girl Bill," which peaked at #12 on the charts.

"My Girl Bill" is an odd song in that the entire punchline of the song is built on the fact that at first Stafford seems to be singing about his "girl" Bill. What!?!? He has a boyfriend?!?! Of course, it turns out that Stafford is simply singing that "she's my girl, Bill." It's the kind of mildly homophobic joke that was pretty common in the world of show business in the 1970s.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

Bill walked me to my door last night
And he said, 'Before I go
There's something about our love affair
That I have a right to know
I said, "Let's not stand out here like this
What would the neighbors think
Why don't we just...step inside
And I'll fix us both a drink"

My girl, Bill
My, my, girl, Bill
Can't say enough about the way I feel
About my girl
(My girl, my girl)
My girl, Bill

William's hands were shaking
As he took his glass of wine
And I could see we both felt the same
When his eyes met mine
I said, "'Who we love and why we love
It's hard to understand
So let's just sit here on the couch
And face this, man to man"

My girl, Bill
My, my, girl, Bill
Can't say enough about the way I feel
About my girl
(My girl, my girl)
My girl Bill

Bill, you know we just left her place
And we both know what she said
She doesn't want to see your face
And she wishes you were dead
Now, I know we both love her
And I guess we always will
But you're gonna have to find another
'Cause she's my girl...Bill

While Stafford first album was a big hit, his 1975 follow-up "Not Just Another Pretty Foot" didn't chart and while both the "Your Bulldog Drinks Champagne" and "I Got Stoned And I Missed It" singles squeaked into the Top 40, Stafford's pop music career was essentially over.

He opened the Jim Stafford Theatre in Branson in 1990 and was a fixture in that nostalgia country scene until he retired to Florida in 2013.

One other interesting piece of trivia: Stafford was briefly married to famed singer Bobby Gentry in the late 1970s.

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Last modified on Monday, 26 June 2023 15:36